Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content


Visual Program Distillation: Distilling Tools and Programmatic Reasoning into Vision-Language Models

Yushi Hu · Otilia Stretcu · Chun-Ta Lu · Krishnamurthy Viswanathan · Kenji Hata · Enming Luo · Ranjay Krishna · Ariel Fuxman

Arch 4A-E Poster #443
[ ]
Thu 20 Jun 10:30 a.m. PDT — noon PDT
Oral presentation: Orals 3B Vision, Language, and Reasoning
Thu 20 Jun 9 a.m. PDT — 10:30 a.m. PDT


Solving complex visual tasks such as ``Who invented the musical instrument on the right?'' involves a composition of skills: understanding space, recognizing instruments, and also retrieving prior knowledge. Recent work shows promise by decomposing such tasks using a large language model (LLM) into an executable program that invokes specialized vision models. However, generated programs are error-prone: they omit necessary steps, include spurious ones, and are unable to recover when the specialized models give incorrect outputs.Moreover, they require loading multiple models, incurring high latency and computation costs. We propose Visual Program Distillation (VPD), an instruction tuning framework that produces a vision-language model (VLM) capable of solving complex visual tasks with a single forward pass. VPD distills the reasoning ability of LLMs by using them to sample multiple candidate programs, which are then executed and verified to identify a correct one. It translates each correct program into a language description of the reasoning steps, which are then distilled into a VLM. Extensive experiments show that VPD improves the VLM's ability to count, understand spatial relations, and reason compositionally. Our VPD-trained PaLI-X outperforms all prior VLMs, achieving state-of-the-art performance across complex vision tasks, including MMBench, OK-VQA, A-OKVQA, TallyQA, POPE, and Hateful Memes. An evaluation with human annotators also confirms that VPD improves model response factuality and consistency. Finally, experiments on content moderation demonstrate that VPD is also helpful for adaptation to real-world applications with limited data.

Live content is unavailable. Log in and register to view live content